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NBA Awards 1/23/13

Tuesday Night Action
It was a PG battle supreme in Cleveland where Rajon Rondo and the Celtics went up against Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers. It was tight throughout the 4th Q, but eventually Irving took over, scoring 11 pts in the last 2 & a half minutes to lead the Cavs to a 95-90 win. He ended up with 40 in the game, just 1 point away from his career high set earlier this season against the Knicks. 2nd year PF Tristan Thompson, who’s really been coming alive lately (15.3/11.5/52.8% last 10 gms), was also big for Cleveland with 21/9/5 asst. Rondo led the Celtics with 17/13/8 asst while Pierce (3-15) & KG (5-13) had a hard time shooting straight…..The Orlando Magic surprised a lot of people when they started 12-13 on the year. Since then, they’ve gone 2-14, a lot more in line with pre-season expectations. Last night it was Detroit who thumped them, 105-90. Brandon Knight (18/5 asst, 3 stl) and Jason Maxiell (11/11 rebs) led the Piston starters, while Will Bynum (15/4/6 asst) continued his fine efforts off the bench. JJ Reddick was the lone scoring star for Orlando, scoring 26 while starting for only the 5th time this season…..The Clippers hosted the Thunder in the marquee matchup of the night, a possible Western Conference Finals preview, but couldn’t avoid their 2nd straight loss as CP III rested his bruised kneecap, too big a missing piece to hang with the best record in the league as OKC won 109-97. It was that familiar two-headed monster leading the way for the visitors as Durant (32/7/7, 5 treys) and Westy (26/4/6) led the charge, Ibaka also contributing with 17/9/3 asst before fouling out late. Blake Griffin was again monstrous for L.A., going off for 31/11/5 dimes…..Finally, the Bucks took care of the 76ers 110-102 as Ersan Illyasova had his best outing of the season (more below) to go with 43 & 17 dimes combined from the Jennings/Ellis backcourt. Philly fell to 3-8 in January and 17-25 overall despite fine nights from Turner (23/6/7 dimes) and Spencer Hawes (21/12 off the bench).
The Akeem Olajuwon Award —   Ersan Illyasova  —  27 pts, 16 rebs, 2 asst, 5 FTM, 3 stl, 1 blk, 2 treys, and 10-17 shooting…this is the 2nd straight game of at least 25/12 for the Turkish sensation as he went off for 27/14 Saturday night against Portland. These back-to-back gems come on the heels of 8 straight games where his pts+rebs failed to reach 20, and only two were better than 15. He’s still barely under 10 pts/gm on the season though, at 9.9/6.1/1.5 asst while shooting 42.8%.
The Mark Randall Award —  Only 4 games last night and no effort stinky enough to garner a Randall Award. We have high standards for subpar play.
P.S. American teenager Sloan Stephens beat Serena in 3 sets last night to advance to the semis in Australia, the season’s first slam event. If you haven’t seen her play, just imagine a female running back with great hand-eye coordination playing tennis. She’s built like a RB, which is no surprise because her dad John Stephens played for the Patriots in the late 80’s/early 90’s, gaining 1,000 yards his rookie year and following it up with consecutive 800+ seasons. She’s probably the fastest gal on tour, and stings her forehand as well as anyone. Additionally, she’s amazingly poised and articulate for such a youngster…a real bright light for American women’s tennis for the next decade. As for the men…check later – nothing interesting on the immediate horizon.

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